Qualities That Make For A Great Retail Business Partner

Qualities That Make For A Great Retail Business Partner

When we take on new roles, either through entering an established market as a Regional Leader, District Leader. or even Store Leader in the field. Or we step into lead a department at Home Office. Or we are hired into a brand new role that we are tasked to create and hire a team for…Building a business and establishing new partnerships with your team, is often a leap of faith. Lot of days in retail are a roller coaster ride for any number of reasons. Choosing the right people to ride it out with makes all the difference.

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Building a team and hiring business partners – people that will be intensely passionate about their business and achieving excellence in their role – that are aligned with not only the organization’s mission, forward-vision, and values – but also with the unique values of you and your team – onto the team is critical to creating a high-productivity and collaborative group. As retail leaders we need to be passionate and proactive about “hiring the senior future leaders of the company” by actively, and with enthusiasm, preparing them for the next step in their career.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, identifying critical or potential success factors can absolutely go a long way to help identify talent that can deliver excellent results in every area of the business. But there are a few other unique and powerful qualities that make for a great business partner.

Qualities That Make For A Great Business Partner

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  • Skill Set That Is The Yin To Your Yang: You should never be afraid to hire the best talent – someone smarter than you in many different areas. Surrounding yourself with those individuals will make you collectively (leader and team) be that much better. People that have a different point of view and perspective and who have the courage to challenge process and path and help bring a different set of solutions and suggestions to the team. While it’s nice to have some things in common with your business partners, finding a balance, and being able to divide and conquer based on expertise is a recipe for success. As retail leaders we need to value smart, savvy, driven individuals and leveraging their strengths and developing them in areas you’re strong in that they may need guidance around. The best way to challenge yourself in your career is to have someone challenging you to work harder.  Find the team that you think will push you toward success – and do the same for them.
  • Remarkable Communication Skills: Email is the bane of workplace productivity and personal connection. A great retail partner relies on dialogs and personal connections to share information and to ensure transparency. They are committed to clear and concise communication standards and know that presentation is key to influence and persuasion. Though it is unreasonable both in time, efficiency, and in sharing to not use electronic communication there are far better tools for teams to utilize that support collaboration and team work – which is why we use Slack and ScribblePost to drive the majority of information sharing in a collaborative and engaging way. Great business partners not only support new methods of sharing but can find the best way to communicate for each unique and important issue.
  • Strong Conflict Resolution Abilities: When your business partner can deliver a strong and honest approach to communication, they are likely good at using a human and analytical approach to conflict. However, we work in an industry that, hopefully, values vivid and distinct individual personalities by hiring people who can connect with the community and customer to build lasting relationships. With personality comes personal opinions and values that don’t always gel with others and sometimes that can create obstacles in the business. You want leaders on your team who can manage this at the very first sign there may be an issue – without having to pull other people [and their time] into the fray. Conflict, even on a small scale, is a daily occurrence inside retail that can either propel or disrupt the momentum for a leader, a team or the entire organization. The workplace can become a toxic environment when leadership allows conflict to fester rather than confront it head-on.  You need business partners that aren’t afraid of addressing it and who possess the ability to fix the issue and move the business forward with everyone on board.
  • Shared Vision & Goals: Aligned drive around company vision and values is one things but each team is their own business unit and are weekly, if not daily, assessing the successes and opportunities of the business. Your teams vision and goals will change frequently based on the state of the business for your region, district, or department [and even on a store level] and your business partners need to embrace change and evolution, on a daily basis. Building a successful business unit [with signature relationship practices] comes with many challenges and requires a lot of combined and individual effort, so it can be easy to lose track of your big-picture goals. Your partners who are aligned with and passionate about your company’s and team’s purpose are your best allies.

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  • A Commitment To Kindness: I have always looked to work with and for kind-hearted people who value honesty. Honesty and integrity leads to more informed decision-making, healthy relationships, and above all, a moral and transparent workplace culture. These are simple, but essential qualities to look for alignment with. When I am looking for my business partners, I feel really strongly about working with someone who has a great moral compass – someone who is genuinely kind and who truly wants to do a great job because they are committed to it and get satisfaction from it. I am driven to find these people because they are leaders that make decisions from a position of kindness and fairness and do not have a hidden agenda. Kindness shows in the way we run our business and treat our customers and it benefits our growth and loyalty from our team members and our communities.
  • Respect for Life Stage: This comes during the recruiting and interviewing stages to ensure that there is an understanding of life stage that your business partner is in and the nuances that come with each particular stage. It’s an interesting concept because it has nothing to do with biological age. It’s understanding how to lead and support your individual team members. For example: When hiring parents as our business partners there needs to be an expectation that – on occasion – they may have a sick child that they need to take a step back from their work day with and spend a day or two at home with that child. We need to understand this, relate to these moments because if we don’t, and we are not leading with kindness and empathy, and when we fail to have a plan in place to help this person and maintain the momentum of the business it may create resentment. Showing and understanding where people are at in their life stage and making sure that we have a process and plan to support each others lives outside of the business will go a long way to supporting the health of the business and the team.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail. Published writer. Frequent Podcast Guest. Speaker. Twenty year [oy vey!] retailer. I am passionate about leadership development and workplace culture. 646 246 1380 | beth@excellencein-retail.com [No Sales Contact, please} But it you want to call just to say hello or have a question - that's awesome!

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